It was a wet weekend at Sonoma, with huge puddles from sudden downpours that made driving treacherous. The first qualifying session Saturday was damp, but Sunday’s forecast called for more rain, so it was imperative to set a good time. Sunday’s qualifying was wetter and the times were around 30 seconds slower than pole time, but suddenly the rain stopped and times started dropping. Suddenly the teams that stayed in the garage seemed nervous about their decision. But the session was not long enough because Saturday’s times held.
Once it was time to race, the track was dry, but light showers kept appearing. Nobody really knew what the weather would be.
At the start, it was Brad McClure in the BTM Motorwerks Porsche 911 who took the lead with his arch enemy Doug Makishima giving chase in the SanDisk/MCS BMW M3, followed by Roger Eagleton in the GoGoGear.com/Konig Wheels BMW M3. While the trio battled for Super Touring, behind them was a great fight for the Touring lead, with Michael Shawhan in the BTM Motorwerks BMW 330i followed by Karl von Beckmann in the Hawk/CCI/Sparta BMW M3, and Gary Sheehan in the GoGoGear.com/Konig Wheels Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
Perhaps the best battle on the track was in the Sportsman class, where Larry Bani took the lead at the start with a great launch in the GoGoGear.com/Konig Wheels BMW M3 over Thomas Pitre in the Pitre Racing Acura Integra. Bani was carrying more than 200 pounds of REWARDS weight due to several wins during the season, so he had to work very hard to keep Pitre behind.
“Pitre was much stronger in the tight sections, so I had to focus to make sure I did not leave an opening for him,” Bani said after the race.
At the end, it was Bani over Pitre by only .2 seconds. Newcomer Victor Ng finished third in the Domport Auto Body Mini Cooper S.
Makishima pressured McClure, who ended up pitting for a flat tire right after that. He finished, but the flat tire already had cost the Porsche driver the victory in Super Touring.
Shawhan looked like he was going to cruise to a victory as Karl von Beckmann was closing in quickly, but just ran out of time — just .2 seconds at the finish. Cruel reality put von Beckmann that close to scoring his first win. Finishing third was Sheehan in the Hyundai.
The GT class was dominated by Daniel Akhromtsev’s Domport Auto Body BMW M3, but last year’s champion Beau Borders was coming on strong in the Hawk/CCI/GM Performance Chevy Camaro who ended up finishing second. Daniel Rose finished third in the TNI Racing Mazdaspeed 3.